After the Bank of America ROVAL 400 Sunday, four drivers were chopped from the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff grid, sizing down the field from 12 to eight. Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
Kyle Larson (-2 points)
Larson started the race in 18th. Entering the race weekend, Larson was sixth in points, 18 points ahead of the playoff cutline.
Larson picked up 13 stage points in the first two stages, but contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 7 in the third stage resulted in a broken toe link in the rear suspension. Larson’s team repaired the damage, but fell five laps down.
The 2021 series champion ultimately finished 35th, five laps down.
“There is no other person to blame than myself for today,” Larson said. “I feel like our team put ourselves in a position as well as we could on points today.
“We got as many stage points as we could and I think we were plus 27 or 28 at the time when I screwed up. Just for no reason either.”
Daniel Suarez (-9 points)
Suarez started the day in third place. He was ranked eighth in the standings, 12 points ahead of the playoff cutline.
Between the first two stages, the Trackhouse Racing driver picked up 13 stage points.
However, During the third stage, Suarez suffered power steering issues, ultimately relegating the driver to 36th, five laps down.
“The second-half of the race was probably the most difficult race I’ve driven in my life, but it is what it is,” Suarez said.
“Unfortunately, me as a driver, that’s something that’s out of my control.”
Austin Cindric (-13 points)
Cindric started the day 10th in the standings, 12 points behind the cutline.
After starting fifth, Cindric earned six stage points, all from a fifth-place finish in Stage 1.
Cindric, the 2021 Daytona 500 champion, ultimately finished 21st on the lead lap after a spin on the final lap.
“It was just crazy and being only a couple spots ahead I was fighting for everything I had,” Cindric said. “My driving standards were probably a little bit lower than I usually like keeping them, but just desperate at that point.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures. We were in a really great position before that first green-white-checkered. We had a few spot margin and had a decent gap behind. The caution came out and I felt like that sealed our fate in some ways. Even then, I was one point out and needed the spot and tried to get it.”
Alex Bowman (-89 ponts; did not race)
Noah Gragson filled in for Alex Bowman for the second straight Cup Series race as Bowman was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms following a crash at Texas Motor Speedway in September.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.